10 Alien Skin 'Question & Answers' with Saliha and George
Saliha from Turkey posted me these interview questions, it's a pleasure to answer them.
Saliha: What inspires you?
George: Creating music for its own sake has always been my greatest motivator. I enjoy writing songs and have done so since I was perhaps 12 or 13 years of age.
The Beatles were my first major inspiration, they became my alter ego as a young teenager. I wanted to match their success and their highly influential music & social position. If not for them I possibly would not be a musician today. I love being creative; writing & producing songs.
It's a fantastic sense of achievement, especially when I bring them to album release standard and send them out, like young children, into the world for the first time.
Saliha: Which one is easier (more difficult); writing lyrics to music or composing music for lyrics?
George: Usually I will compose the music first. If I'm actually writing in 'stream of consciousness' mode, that is, either on guitar or keyboard - just singing to a chord sequence, I will sing whatever lyrics pop into my head. Sometimes it's a word or phrase from TV. If I do come up with that one phrase, and if I'm happy with it, I'll later sit down and finish off the words, establishing a lyrical direction & theme for the song.
The most satisfying part for me is creating the melodies and arranging the song from beginning to end, creating the atmosphere and general mood and feel of the finished track. And hopefully the lyrics end up playing an integral part as well. I can only really appreciate this once the song is finalized.
Saliha: If you have made a painting of your music, how would it look like?
George: Good question, though I don't paint and I'm quite hopeless at it. But if I could, it would reflect the mood of the music, so the colours would be quiet & surreal and the definition, fuzzy or blurred. My songs as Alien Skin are generally steeped in atmosphere, so I guess that would be the first thing a viewer would hopefully be drawn to.
Saliha: None of your songs is similar to the other. How can you manage this?
George: It's hard for me to answer, as we all perceive art differently. There are similarities I think; there is a thread that runs through them. If a listener continues to find new elements within the songs and is enthused enough to keep listening, then I've successfully created something of merit for them and for myself.
Saliha: Is keyboard (synthesizer) a complicated instrument; is it harder to play than the other instruments?
George: It's not harder to play, it's the sound programming that may get complicated, but you can make it as easy or complex as you wish, depending on what you wish to achieve. An excellent BBC documentary, made a few years ago which includes interviews with Martin Gore, Gary Numan, Human League etc, is a great one to watch. I keep promoting it because I've watched it a few times online, and it is just so interesting to track the evolution of synth music since the 1970s. I highly recommend it. Watch it later on Youtube at http://youtu.be/69Wjc6QYuKI
Saliha: Do you think, your music addresses females more than it addresses males?
George: I don't consciously address one or the other. I just write from accumulated experience and this also impacts upon my imagination and the scenarios I set up in my songs. A quick perusal of my fan statistic shows pretty much an even distribution between the genders. Perhaps a little more female interest than male. I don't write aggressive or beat heavy music, so in someways that fact is one that may disinterest some males, but they're still interested in the electronics.
Saliha: If you had the chance to compose the music of one of a ‘Film Noir’ movie, which one would you prefer?
George It's hard to want to do that to an existing film noir movie, as often the music is so intrinsic to the film that changing it would undermine its overall impact. I'd consider it sacrilege:) I'd rather leave the original music intact, as I usually love the soundtracks of those superb old productions. I'm not really a fan of redoing old ideas, taking them out of their own unique, relevant environment and era.
Saliha: What’s your favourite Depeche Mode song/album/video?
George: Depeche Mode has been a major contributor to my musical development since the early 1980s. I know a lot of people who like the band are much younger than me, so generally a lot of fans who go to their shows best love them for their albums from the 1990s onwards, and especially more recent years.
I first discovered them when the world was a very different place, and music certainly was quite different to what it is now. They were extremely influential in their earlier period, especially being a fully electronic band; live they performed with 3 keyboardists and lead singer with backing tapes. It wasn't something that was accepted by a lot of people and there weren't many artists doing this successfully. Depeche Mode though stuck to their ideals and fortunately succeeded. I loved the 1984 live video 'The World We Live In And Live In Hamburg' this was the first time I actually 'saw' them live, it was such a refreshing show as up till then all I knew first hand in Australia was rock & roll and more traditional band line-ups and sound.
It's hard to say what my definitive Depeche Mode album is, but I have a special fondness for Black Celebration from 1986. Favourite songs & videos change as well, but again, it's the early ones that most inspired me, they were new, fresh and unique at their time in history. From the post Vince Clarke period the first video I saw was Everything Counts, so I'd probably say that is the one I most fondly remember. I think it was filmed in Germany.
Saliha: You sometimes use female names as song titles. Does it have a special meaning?
George: Each has its own meaning, there's no great plan here. I have recorded and posted audio & video commentaries on all songs from Ghost In The Rain & The Unquiet Grave on my website, so it's best to consult these for the stories behind the songs.
Saliha: Do you consider touring or participating in electronic music festivals?
George: I've done quite a number of shows in Australia and overseas with Real Life in the past. Two things make it difficult for me as Alien Skin. Firstly, my hearing has been damaged seriously due to many years of loud live performance and this contributed to me leaving Real Life in 2005. Secondly, it is very expensive to set up a show and travel it across the world. Alien Skin does not bring in that amount of money to enable me to consider it, although of course I'd love to tour again.